Peter MacDonald’s double earned Stirling a third straight win despite having midfielder Dom Docherty sent off midway through the second half.

The victory moves Kevin Rutkiewicz’s side to within four points of the play-offs as we gained revenge for a defeat here to Peter Murphy’s men in September.

This was a significant win in a hard-fought match and we had to dig deep to secure a precious three points to follow up the recent wins over Cowdenbeath and Edinburgh City.

It was an unchanged team that lined up, with Kevin Moon, Lee Hamilton and Mark Stewart again ruled out. New signings Jordan McGregor and Max Ashmore were on the bench and the latter came on as a substitute with 20 minutes remaining.

Chances were scarce at both ends in the opening period but we took the lead after 20 minutes when Danny Jardine, who this week signed a new contract, delivered a low cross from the left wing and MacDonald prodded a low shot beyond Alex Mitchell.

The veteran striker was denied a second goal when his header from a Docherty free-kick crashed back off the bar and three minutes later the Galabankies were level. Left-back Jordan Allan was caught in possession when he should have cleared his lines and, although Calum Ferrie made a good save from Ross Fergusson’she initial effort, the ball broke for Tommy Muir to send the ball into the empty net.

There wasn’t much between the teams as the game wore on and we were hampered when Docherty, unhappy at the award of a free-kick, was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident.

Stirling reacted well to the setback and claimed the winning goal with 13 minutes left. Substitute Dylan Mackin did well to steer a header back across goal and MacDonald smacked the ball into the net for his fifth goal of the season.

Mackin rattled the bar with a superb strike from the edge of the box then there was a late scare when Muir fired over from a good position as Annan pressed for an equaliser but we held on to the delight of the 600-plus crowd.

Stirling Albion: Ferrie, McGeachie, Allan, Hughes, Horne, Banner, Jardine, Docherty, MacDonald (McLaughlin 90), Smith (Mackin 70), Thomson (Ashmore 70). Subs (not used): Binnie (GK), Marr, McGregor, McLaren.

Goals: MacDonald 20, 77

Annan Athletic: Mitchell, Hooper, Creaney, Wilson, Bradley, Swinglehurst, Moxon (Wallace 78), Sinnamon, Smith, Muir, Fergusson (Johnston 60). Subs (not used): McAdams (GK), Sonkur, Watson, Strapp.

Goal: Muir 33

Referee: Colin Steven

Crowd: 617